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Queen and Beaver

Squeakycheese Jul 11, 2009 05:00 PM

Gonna have to pull a reverse ferret on this one... I really liked the concept when I first went, was happy to chalk any shortcomings up to being a new place, but I went back for the third time today, and sadly the food is not up to scratch. I really hope they succeed, but today's showing left a lot to be desired. It seems that they are being too ambitious, without the kitchen strength to execute.

  1. m
    mstacey42 Mar 22, 2010 07:09 PM

    Went a couple of weekends ago with three friends. Second visit. There is something easy to like about the place. Inviting space, agreeable staff. The food does not wow me. The burger was excellent--but it is a weird (very very steak-y) burger that may not burgerate sufficiently for all. The fries (sampled on only one trip) were disappointingly limp. A ham terrine with picallilli had a nice variety of textures about it--and the homemade pickle is tangy. Fish and chips seemed like a nice delicate piece of fish but the batter failed to impress its orderer. A steak with horseradish cream was declared a fine piece of meat--cooked as requested. Duck confit didn't reach any exceptional heights of moistness or crispness, but it came with a curry that showed (not unconvincingly) that there might be a reason to fancify english curry.

    A foie gras and quail (??? not totally sure it was quail...but some sort of funny bird) terrine with pistachios was very good. Potted duck with sour cherries came with some boring toast chips but did deliver a hit of "ducky" flavour. The fat on top of the pot--however--was disturbingly the tastiest part of the dish.

    Sticky toffee pudding and a creme brulee-ish thing with nice berries in the custard were both nice. I wish they would go whole hog and do an all english dessert menu. Those nice berries would have been even better as part of a giant Eton mess.

    No other place to get grastropub food, right? Though the roxton's burger used to make you feel like you were having a good meal even if the rest of the menu made you feel like you were at the Green Room.

    mmm...actually...maybe foodwise I have more pleasant memories of the beer bistro...but it's been a few years.

    Queen and Beaver is a nice place and the food would only have to be a little bit better for me to love it a lot more.

    3 Replies
    1. re: mstacey42
      sgogo Oct 6, 2010 07:52 PM

      I heartily agree - it should be easy to like, but the food just hasn't wowed me. Went tonight, and just wanted something light so I tried the BLT. Blergh...they make it with English bacon (I'm assuming), so it had giant, chewy, fatty slabs slithering around on the bun. I quickly took out all the bacon to make it a pretty tasty LT, and ate about a quarter of the bacon on it's own. Tomatoes were roasted, which was nice. Maybe it's my fault as I should have expected it, but I just can't imagine eating that sandwich as it was. Oh crispy bacon, how I love you!
      That said, I love the upstairs sitting area.

      1. re: sgogo
        smudgebee Oct 6, 2010 08:00 PM

        I was there tonight too. Had the burger, it was really good. Fries were bad, I should have asked for salad.

        1. re: sgogo
          c
          Cat123 Oct 6, 2010 08:43 PM

          The BLT at Queen and Beaver is typically made with pork belly, I believe. I quite like pork belly so it is fine with me but I agree if you are expecting normal bacon you might be disappointed and I don't think it is clear on the menu at all.

      2. Rabbit Mar 22, 2010 04:41 PM

        Went back to Q&B tonight and the second time around was definitely less-good. The venison cobbler was waayyy too bacon-y and salty (and I'm usually quite insensitive to oversalting). Also, the meat was rather paltry for a $24 dish. Scones that came with were nice, but the dish still seemed disappointing.

        The rabbit and potato pie was mostly potato with a crust that was sometimes on the unappetizing side of burnt.

        Fries were still fab and mixology is solid. I really like the atmosphere and service was good... but the food was just OK this time around.

        1. miketoronto Mar 16, 2010 02:53 PM

          Loved the vibe, disappointing choice of beers, and a completely overhyped burger. Good, definitely not great. The rabbit pie was better imho

          I agree that this place could really be great if the food was even just a bit better.

          1 Reply
          1. re: miketoronto
            k
            kwjd Mar 17, 2010 12:31 PM

            Disappointing choice of beers? What do you want there that isn't? I suppose I'd want a nice hoppy IPA, but that is a problem with everywhere in the city. Save for one or two medicore beers, everything on their beer list is good to excellent. From what I remember they have St Ambroise Oatmeal Stout (one of Canada's best stouts, if not the best), Fuller's London Pride, Denison's Hefe (certainly Canada's best of the style) and Wellington Arkel on cask.

            The food for me has been up and down.

          2. j
            JPJ Mar 16, 2010 11:23 AM

            Put me in the pro-Q&B camp.

            I have eaten there probably about a dozen times now and the food was always very good. The one exception was a slightly overly chewy "cheese scone" in a venison pot au feu. Had a number of very good dishes here, the burger is a well opined success, the fish and chips are very good, the short rib is rich and satisfying as it the potted duck. Really liked the cod's tongue I had a few months back, have not seen it served in Toronto before (not saying it hasn't). I have to say that some of the opposite experiences about the food here are surprising. Differences of taste/opinion are expected and natural, but when people use terms like "rancid", "burned" and "inedible" I certainly would have thought I would have encountered this in my many, many visits. Just lucky I guess.

            Service has never been an issue for me.

            My only complaint would be getting sat at one of the tables with a large lip around it so I can spend my time ramming my knees into it, trying to get my legs underneath. Why these "character tables" are put in restaurants where comfort should be key is a mystery. Buca has a large one in their restaurant, if you are any taller than 5'7" good luck getting your legs comfortably under it.

            1. s
              Smorgasbord Mar 14, 2010 03:15 PM

              I have to agree with the OP... I've been here approx. 5 times and I've had diminishing returns every time to the point where the last meal I had there was one of the worst I've had in a restaurant, bar none. I have to preface by saying I really, really liked the place the first few times I was there, and instead of getting better over the months, they got worse. The last time I was there a friend was buying me a belated birthday meal [so I didn't complain to the Q&B about the meal, not wanting to offend my pal, etc.] but the food was pretty much inedible. The spiced lamb shoulder was just rancid- it was simultaneously hard brown shards on the outside [like when a sandwich has been sitting out for days curling up], the inside meat was mushy to the point where it had a paste-like consistency, and it was served stone cold to boot. The toasts we had as an app [cheddar and tomato] were so burnt and hard you could have broken your teeth eating them, and the tomatoes were rotten underneath. Service has also become a weird combo of overly-friendly/familiar and simultaneously aloof/ignore-you-so-long-you-think-the-waiter-went-home-for-the-day. On the plus side, it's a great space and they have great beers on tap. Basically, this is a place I relegate to having a few pints, not eating.

              1. r
                radiopolitic Mar 14, 2010 08:50 AM

                Has anyone had their sunday feast options?

                I'm thinking of rounding up some friends and having the lamb.

                1 Reply
                1. re: radiopolitic
                  j
                  jamesm Nov 23, 2010 12:55 PM

                  Went Sunday night for the Sunday roast. It was for a friend's birthday and we had the front room booked. Having been to pubs in London, Manchester, Cork, Dublin, Trilee and elsewhere I can say the atmosphere is bang on. The smell, interior, baseboard heaters et al. Service was extremely friendly and accommodating. Dinner was served family style and included roast beef, yorkshire pudding, vegetables, roasted potatoes and a whole suckling pig. The suckling pig was fantastic. Smoky, sweet with crispy skin and moist inside. Delicious, Roast Beef was equally good. It was served with a delicious gravy. The roasted potatoes were roasted potatoes. The yorkshire puddings may have suffered from sitting a bit long while the pig was carved, but still good. I can't remember the name of the beer my girlfriend had but I tasted it and really liked it. It was a stout and a strong coffee finish to it. I commented that it would make an excellent ice cream. For dessert we split a sticky toffee pudding and it was delicious. All told it was a great experience and for a large group it's a wonderful idea. I'm probably going to take my family there soon since they are anglophiles and will likely love it.

                  Forgot to add that had two vegetarians in the group and they were well looked after. For the main the kitchen prepared a mushroom pithiviere and they were very happy with it.

                2. Rabbit Mar 14, 2010 06:53 AM

                  I realize this is an older thread, but it seems to be the only one devoted to Q&B so I thought I'd resurrect it.

                  We visited for the first time last night and found the food very good, the service charming, and the space warm and inviting (on a cold, rainy night!). The reviews here would most all have been shortly after the Q&B opened, and it seems to me that they've worked out the kinks.

                  The menu is interesting and unexpected with lots of pub classics with interesting slightly gastro-twists (venison cobbler, rabbit and potato pie, etc.). I had the fish and chips, a generous serving of fish with wonderful thick fries (even better doused with vinegar). We'd go back just to drink pints and eat fries. Mr. Rabbit had the lamb curry, which was a nice plate but could have been revved up spice-wise for his taste. He started with a sardine toast with balsamic, simple and satisfying. The cocktail list is short, but properly executed (we sampled an Old Fashioned and a Pimm's Cup). And desserts were pretty fab too... especially the homemade whiskey-gingerbread ice cream that came with the butter tart pie.

                  We sat at the bar and although they were busy service was personable and very attentive (in a good way, not annoyingly so). Our cheque was under $100 (one app, two mains, three drinks, two desserts) before tax and after tip.

                  Despite the negative tenor of some of these early reviews I would encourage people to give this place another shot. We were impressed with what they're doing and we'll definitely be back.

                  PS - British gangster film night on Mondays - ha!

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Rabbit
                    c
                    childofthestorm Mar 14, 2010 07:24 AM

                    Good review, the Q&B has actually become quite a regular spot for me as well. They do a lot of things very well, I've had excellent service my last 3 visits, and the ambience is terrific. Having recently done a bit of a pub crawl in London, the Q&B certainly would not be out of place in an area like Belgravia, and Londoners would be packing the place for sure.

                    1. re: childofthestorm
                      shekamoo Mar 14, 2010 07:48 AM

                      agreed. very good food and excellent service on a busy night. everyone in our party was happy with their order. The burger (ordered medium rare) is untraditional but still a top contender in this town, and I have tried many of the contenders. The lamb chops (medium) were also done very well.
                      I think the term gastropub is definitely earned. love the interior setting too. I dont live anywhere near the place, but should I find myself in that area, this would be my go-to choice. look forward to trying the fish and chips.

                      1. re: childofthestorm
                        mikeb Mar 14, 2010 07:49 AM

                        I really like this place. Their steak and kidney pudding is the best steak and kidney that I've had in an Ontario restaurant for a long long time. They'll even throw in oysters! An added bonus is that the downstairs is busy but not loud.

                      2. re: Rabbit
                        j
                        julesrules Dec 20, 2010 06:24 AM

                        Hmm interesting hubby's F&C were far from generously portioned yesterday. We found the food overpriced and underwhelming in general. But the weirdest thing was the wood-smoked fruit pie at dessert. NOT a good idea to wood fire pie, in case anyone was wondering. The other desserts were good, I enjoyed the steamed ginger pudding never having had that kind of traditional steamed caked before. But if my 5 year old hadn't pretty much destroyed the pie trying to find edible bits I would have sent it back as the taste was just WRONG. She told me the crust was "burned" and I looked and said, looks slightly overbrowned but nothing terrible... tasted it and realized what she meant; it was smoked pie.
                        Love the vibe of the place and the service was great. I'd go back for beer and snacks or dessert but not a meal.

                      3. d
                        dubchild Jul 12, 2009 08:51 AM

                        This has been posted before. I agree with your comments about the food. I think the way to enjoy this place, is to not go for the food. Go watch a game, relax on their sofas, have a pint and some above average pub fair at above average prices.
                        But you are right, it was a missed opportunity.

                        1. Non Doctor Jul 12, 2009 12:07 AM

                          What is a "reverse ferret" BTW?

                          I have googled it back-to-front and it makes no sense.

                          Sorry, being pedantic.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Non Doctor
                            Squeakycheese Jul 12, 2009 07:09 AM

                            http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news...

                            1. re: Squeakycheese
                              Non Doctor Jul 12, 2009 08:36 AM

                              Haha, thanks!

                          2. Splendid Wine Snob Jul 11, 2009 06:58 PM

                            Squeakycheese,

                            What did you have? Could you describe why or how you feel the kitchen's ambitions overstretch their execution? Details!

                            I haven't been yet so I'm curious.

                            SWS

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: Splendid Wine Snob
                              Squeakycheese Jul 11, 2009 07:58 PM

                              A lot of things... I don't really want to trash the place, as I said I really hope they succeed, but problems have been:
                              1) Cock-a-leekie soup with PRUNES? in it. It would be great of they just used a strong chicken stock. They included good white chicken meat.
                              2) Bacon sarnie... they failed to trim the rind from the bacon, so it was hard to eat, very, very chewy.
                              3) My wife had the fish and chips, she reported it was uneven wrt the batter, with a quite heavy distribution at one end.

                              Overall, we concluded that they still need to get better at what they serve. Don't get me wrong, it's better than the average pub grub, but really they need to raise their game a bit to realise their full potential.

                              Especially as the area they are in gets a lot of tourists... who might not be up for some quite esoteric English staples.

                              1. re: Squeakycheese
                                Splendid Wine Snob Jul 11, 2009 08:33 PM

                                Thanks for the detailed report.

                                SWS

                                1. re: Splendid Wine Snob
                                  Non Doctor Jul 11, 2009 11:56 PM

                                  "Cock-a-leekie soup with PRUNES?"

                                  My Mother is Lanark-born (East Coast Scotland), and now lives in Edinburgh, Scotland.

                                  She has made me cock-a-leekie soup with prunes since I was a wee boy.

                                  So I would hazard a guess that this is a pretty damn traditional recipe!

                                  I'm going for lunch this coming Monday and so I'll give you my personal report then.

                                  1. re: Non Doctor
                                    p
                                    phoenikia Sep 19, 2009 11:37 AM

                                    How was it, Non-Doctor?

                                2. re: Squeakycheese
                                  Non Doctor Jul 12, 2009 12:04 AM

                                  "who might not be up for some quite esoteric English staples"

                                  Who says they need to rely upon the tourist trade?

                                  I'd like to think that Toronto diners are getting a little more adventurous, non?

                                  Looking at the menu without actually sampling, I'd have to say that I am quite excited by some of the dishes.

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